Putting the Prince To Bed

When we were about 12 hours out from Darwin we made a rare satellite phone call to Northern Territory Fisheries to report our next day’s arrival having passed through the Torres Straits. Some day in a glorious future phone numbers around the world will be uniform in construction, but until that day comes we would do as I did: determine the country code from other Australian numbers we had used in the past on our cell phones, notice the Fisheries number was one digit too many so removed the leading zero, and made the attempt. Amazingly it worked! Yes, we have not attempted to understand Australian phone numbers. Usually 8 digits long they can also be as few as 6.

I made my pitch to the lady who answered, trying to stress that we had not stopped in the Straits and so perhaps would not have to suffer through a produce examination. However, she told me they were not looking for fruits and vegetables but growth on the hull. And the growth which had been of theoretical concern in Bundaberg, theoretical only because in Bundaberg they did not examine our hull, was not the same pests being looked for here in Darwin. In Bundaberg we had stressed out about getting our hull inspected but they looked at our fruits and vegetables, and here in Darwin we were stressed out about fruits and vegetables but they only wanted to see our hull! And they were not looking for the same pests. The cost of the examination is borne by the Northern Territory government.

So we motored in the early morning up to the tidal lock of Cullen Bay Marina where the inspections are done and tied up. After 10 days we were back on land and I wobbled a bit as I walked as usual. Somewhat sensibly, the quarantine dock is the outer arrival dock and we didn’t have to go into the marina itself. I had phoned the scuba diver who would be doing the exam but he knew about us already from Fisheries and indeed had been watching our progress into Darwin on his AIS! As Carol and I finished our refueling of Prince Diamond, the diver and his 2 assistants arrived with their gear. It was very impressive, a hookah set with communications ability. He explained that years ago a boat had come into Cullen Bay Marina and had wiped out the marina with an infestation of Black Stripe mussels from the Torres Straits. Related to the dreaded Zebra mussels which have caused havoc in the Great Lakes of North America, all boats which have transited the Straits have to be examined before being allowed into any marina.

He dove on our hull, squirting a deadly liquid into all of our through-hulls and having us pump the liquid through our engine, our toilets, shower drains and any other sea water intakes. Our hull was clean. Prince Diamond now had to stay immobile for 10 hours, so for the coming night we had a free dock here, ready the next morning early to continue on with our official decontamination paper to Bayview Marina.

I took a wee walk to try to find both the Customs office as well as Bayview Marina during the afternoon. The Customs officer was very helpful and we got on the same page as to our intentions and our obligations for the storage of Prince Diamond and permission to re-join him in 2018 for the continuance of the circumnavigation. Finding Bayview Marina was a bit more confusing. I have come to believe my confusion about which marina I had been communicating with was due to the fact that here, as elsewhere in Australia, one communicates with a real estate management company and not a marina per se. Bayview Marina is Northern Management, and their address contains “Tipperary Waters”. Since there is a Tipperary Waters Marina, I made the connection in error that I was coming to Tipperary Waters Marina.

A mailed package of seasickness medication from Canada had been chasing us ever since July when its arrival at Bundaberg happened after we had already left toward Cairns. I asked the marina to forward the package to Cairns Marina, but they forgot. By the time we were leaving Cairns they forwarded it to Tipperary Waters in Darwin, the wrong marina through my error. We eventually did get the package.

My confusion was enhanced by the fact that when searching online for the location of Bayview Marina with Google Maps it showed the marina as being in the same boat basin as Tipperary Waters Marina. I came to believe the 2 marinas shared a common basin. But when I arrived at the basin after a long, hot 7 kilometre walk nobody there had heard of Bayview Marina except one fellow who believed it was further to the north up the river.

The same internet source which showed Bayview Marina as being here also showed no such boat basin further up the river. The river just ended in a mangrove choked head-water. BUT my chart-plotter actually DID show a more northerly boat basin and identified it as Bayview Marina! Curiouser and curiouser! The confusion was finally resolved by 2 facts. Tipperary Waters is the name of a small region as well as a marina, and the Northern Management office is located at Tipperary Waters and not at the marina they manage.

So the next morning we arrived at Bayview, which doesn’t exist in a mangrove marsh but in an actual boat basin which Google knows nothing about. It is a small marina but suits us well.

We worked hard through 3 days in the terrible heat which is just getting worse and worse daily as the wet season draws closer. Stripping the boat in hopes that if it is subject to a cyclone it will survive was our job. This area spawns cyclones in the wet season (their summer) and a possible saving grace is before the cyclone can gain in intensity it should move off. However, Darwin in the past HAS been devastated, so we can only hope for the best.

We took down all the sails, the bimini, the dodger and the lazy bag, reduced the windage of the running rigging by raising much of it to the masthead, and even removed the boom and carried it below. The solar panels remain up but are reinforced with lines. In Panama, another hot wet place, Shelter Bay Marina had dehumidifiers available for rent, scores of them, for they are seen as fundamental for the prevention of mold on board of a sealed up boat. In Darwin, surprisingly, dehumidifiers are not easily found even though after a day of phoning and running around we found one at the local Harvey Norman’s store. Harvey Norman’s is a kind of combination of Best Buy, Future Shop, appliance store and furniture store all in one. We had shopped there before, in Bundaberg, to buy hair cutting clippers and a car cell phone holder.

On Sunday morning at 6 a.m. we are flying out from Darwin to Singapore where we will stop for 2 days to be tourists, then on to Hong Kong for ditto before flying direct, 15 hours back to Toronto. It will be great to be home. We’ve been gone for a little over 6 months.

At the beginning of May 2018 we will continue on across the Indian Ocean toward next year’s goal, South Africa.

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